Five timeless experiences

1.) Taking a Bateaux Mouche ride on the River Seine in Paris
I’ve been to Paris three times and each time I’ve gone up in the Eiffel Tower. Were I to visit again sometime within the next five years, I would probably opt to skip it, not because it doesn’t offer fantastic views but more because I don’t see going up in it as a timeless experience. The crowds can be horrendous, the lines to queue extremely long and that just puts a damper on it for me. I much prefer the open excursion boats that take visitors to the City of Light up and down its most famous waterway. I love to view the city’s most iconic landmarks from the water for it provides an entirely different viewing perspective. Last September D and I took a Bateaux Mouche dinner cruise and it was fantastic. The boat glided effortlessly up and down the Seine and landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre and Notre Dame looked stunning all lit up. Night or day, it’s an experience I always enjoy.

2.) Having authentic salsa in Mexico
Salsa in Mexico simply cannot be beat. Although there are plenty of authentic Mexican restaurants in the United States, eating salsa in the land where it originated is an entirely different experience. When I think back to all of the places I’ve lived and visited in Mexico (Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Cancun, Queretaro), memories of salsas always come to mind, including mouth numbing spicy ones. At Casa Hidalgo, a terrific restaurant across from the Palacio de Cortes (Cortez’s palace) in Cuernavaca, I sampled a salsa from one of three that are placed on each table. I had never tasted anything so spicy before; my mouth felt like it was on fire and there were tears welling in my eyes from how hot it was. A forewarning: although it’s said to help, bread, for me at least did not cool my mouth down.

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3.) Visiting the monuments in Washington D.C.
They’re free admission, they’re outside, and they’re simply majestic all in their own right. I enjoy the moving yet simple nature of the Vietnam War memorial and the more in-depth scope of the Franklin Roosevelt memorial, which depicts his four terms as president. I find the location of the Lincoln Memorial stunning, overlooking the National Mall, all of the nation’s capital at one’s feet. I’ve only been to the World War Two Memorial once since it opened, but the presence of the military veterans makes it that much more of a humbling experience.

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4.) Gazing out at the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean
I’ve gazed at it innumerable times, but the crystal clear color of the Caribbean Sea never fails to captivate me anew every time I see it. When D and I visited the Mexican beach resort of Cancun in 2008, we had had an extremely early flight and by the time we arrived in Mexico, we were both exhausted. However, as soon as I caught sight of the Caribbean just beyond the massive glass windows of the hotel lobby, I felt less tired and more relaxed. I could have gazed at it for hours and never grown tired. Although there are countless other bodies of water in the world that I have not seen, some perhaps more striking than the Caribbean, that is still one of the most gorgeous and intoxicating ones.

5.) Relaxing at a cafe in Europe
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my experiences in Europe, it’s that the Europeans take their time whether it’s eating a meal or just sipping a cafe. They’re in no hurry to leave and the waiters and waitresses could care less if you rush right on or linger for hours. Coming from a country whose restaurant culture promotes the check being brought to your table without your having to ask for it, and the more diners you bring in the better, it was quite an adjustment to go to a continent whose culture  for the most part does not promote the check being brought to you (it’s considered rude). And even when requesting it multiple times, it still may not always appear. But with time, I have grown accustomed to this, and frankly have come to greatly enjoy it. Sometimes there is nothing better than just relaxing with a chocolat chaud and a warm flaky croissant.

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